}

Monday, February 03, 2020

Under new skies

So, here I am in Hamilton. It’s way too early to call this the start of anything except, maybe, the start of the start. Despite all the work I’ve completed and gone through over the weeks, there’s so much yet to do, and all that is before I can truly start whatever it is this new life will become. So far, though, it’s been exactly what I expected, both good and bad.

Anyone could have predicted the parts I think are good. I’ve had impromptu visitors for the first time in years, I’ve been able to get together with family members several times since I moved in, and I even welcomed my first overnight guests. I can go see family whenever I want or need to, and none of them in Hamilton are more than 15 minutes away.

At the same time, whenever I need to go to a store—the supermarket, the home centre, whatever—it’s only a few minutes away, not 25 minutes like at the old place. That’s handy, but it also saves me a lot of time, especially when I’m in the middle of a project, and there are a lot of projects in a new house.

So, there are a lot of really good things about this move, things I really wanted to happen. I’m really glad about them.

And yet…

Hanging over all of this is the reason I moved here. While Nigel and I talked about moving to Hamilton “someday”, I doubt we’d be here together right now. I’m only in Hamilton because he’s not, and that reality rushes through me every day and sucks all the air from my life. The clouds block out the sun and make it hard to see the pretty day all around me.

In most respects, I’m pretty much just going through the motions, acting like I’m living rather than actually living. There’s nothing that anyone else can do about that—it’s something that I have to find my own way through, and I need time to do that.

After my first weekend in the new house, I hit a really bad patch, and I realised that there were two reasons for that. First, after all those months and all that work, I was finally able to to breathe. And second, that for the first time, I truly had time to properly grieve. And, did I ever—several crying fits later, and I reached another sort of stasis.

That everyday ordinariness is based on profound grief. That’s my reality, and it’s virtually all there is of me right now. In a real sense, I’m not Arthur, I’m his temporary robot replacement. The evidence of that is everywhere.

Over the past few months, I’ve shared a few photos of me, and whenever I’m “smiling”, it’s empty. “Fake” is too strong a word, but those smiles are barely more than painted on. My eyes show that. It’s something I realised only recently when I was looking at some current photos of me posted on Facebook.

This hollowness is one of those times when I’m faced with something I don’t like, but it’s also something I can’t do much about, and something I’m worried about. Will this end? How soon? Will it drive people away?

And yet…

The reason I’m aware of all this at all is because moving to Hamilton gave me the space—literally and figuratively—to figure it out. Understanding what’s happening to me is an important step toward whatever my new reality will be. All of which means that even the bad aspects are still made better by my move to Hamilton.

Here I am in Hamilton. I’m under new skies, but there are still clouds overhead, sometimes blocking out the sun. But I still believe that better days lie ahead, because moving to Hamilton has been exactly what I expected, and it’s the start of a start.

The photo above is of the sky above my house early this evening.

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